Hundreds of veterans were unwittingly used as pawns to lobby for USA legislation the Saudi government supported, and put up in luxury hotel rooms in Washington DC - all paid for by the Saudi Arabian government.
A new report from the Washington Post reveals that lobbyists funded by the government of Saudi Arabia spent over $270,000 reserving "blocks of rooms" at President Donald Trump's Washington D.C. hotel a month after the 2016 election.More news: Cardi B reacts to her five Grammy nominations
The aim of the lobbying efforts appeared to be an amendment to the law, though no changes were ever passed through Congress and some veterans involved told the Post that it was unclear what specific changes the groups organizing the trips desired to see, the Hill newspaper reported. JASTA allows victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia, among other foreign nations, for their role in the attacks (though the bill does not mention Saudi Arabia by name).
In total, the lobbyists paid almost $270,000 to house the veterans, expenses that are now being scrutinized as President Donald Trump still owns the hotel.More news: Twelve killed during attempted bank heists in Brazil
At first, Saudi lobbyists put the veterans up in Northern Virginia. The luxury rooms were to be used by U.S. military veterans as part of a free trip to Washington while lobbying Congress against the anti- Saudi bill.
But some of the vets the Post interviewed said they felt like they were being used twice ― to lobby for Saudi Arabia, and then again to bring business to Trump. In December 2016 they switched most of their business to the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington.More news: PGA of America officially announces move from Palm Beach Gardens to Texas
"It made all the sense in the world, when we found out that the Saudis had paid for it", said Henry Garcia, a Navy veteran from San Antonio, told the Post. There were private hotel rooms, open bars, free dinners.
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